|WEDNESDAY 12 APRIL 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A new report has again confirmed that female and non-binary producers, sound engineers and other studio personnel are "vastly underrepresented" on the biggest music releases... [READ MORE]|
New report puts the spotlight on the "significant gender gap" that continues in the recording studio
The Fix The Mix Annual Report reviews production credits for the most streamed tracks across various digital services, finding that "the credits for the top ten streamed tracks of 2022 across five major [streaming services] reveal a significant gender gap, with only sixteen of the 240 credited producers and engineers being women and non-binary people".
The report has been put together by the US-based organisation We Are Moving The Needle, in partnership with Middle Tennessee State University and Howard University, and utilising music data from Jaxsta.
It aims to extensively review all the people involved in producing the most streamed music of last year, including "the top-line key roles of producer, engineer, mixing engineer and mastering engineer, as well as additional production and recording roles including programmer, vocal producer, editor and assistant roles".
The research has been influenced and informed by the ongoing work of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which monitors and scrutinises gender diversity in the entertainment industry. Indeed, it was that initiative's work on gender diversity in the recording studio - or the lack thereof - that motivated mastering engineer Emily Lazar to launch We Are Moving The Needle back in 2021.
However, the Fix The Mix report explains, by digging a little deeper this new research shows that there are differences in terms of gender diversity in the studio according to genre, with the average number of female or non-binary production team members varying from zero to 17.6% depending which specific strand of the music industry you look at.
"Metal has the lowest percentage of women and non-binary people credited in key technical roles at 0.0%, with rap and christian/gospel trailing closely at 0.7% and 0.8% respectively", the report reveals. "These numbers highlight the need for major advancements across the cultures of these genres' recording communities".
Meanwhile, electronic music "stands out for its relatively high representation of women and non-binary people in producer roles, accounting for 17.6% of all producer credits on the top 50 songs of 2022". Although, as the report notes, even in the genre with the best diversity, the number of female and non-binary producers and engineers involved in the biggest tracks is still depressingly low.
By digging deeper into the production credits, the report also shows that "women and non-binary individuals are more highly concentrated within assistant roles than in key technical roles". Where streaming services provide that level of detail, "assistant roles have 12.6 percentage points more women and non-binary people on average than do key technical roles".
"While this higher concentration of women and non-binary people in assistant roles may indicate a growing pipeline of these contributors rising into key levels", it says, "it could be indicative of a glass ceiling preventing this demographic from an upward trajectory".
"These findings challenge a misconception that women and non-binary individuals lack the qualifications to be hired as producers and engineers", it goes on. "Instead, the data suggests that they are qualified and present in the proper entry-level roles, but they are not advancing to the next level".
"This may be indicative of inequity around opportunities for advancement, underscoring the need for greater efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the recording industry to ensure that qualified individuals of all genders and identities have an equal chance to succeed and contribute to the industry's continued growth and evolution".
With all this in mind, the report confirms that - despite many great diversity initiatives being launched within the music industry and many music companies launching their own inclusion programmes - much more still needs to be done.
"It is important for the music industry to acknowledge and address these barriers to advancement, in order to promote diversity and inclusivity in the profession and ensure that all qualified individuals have the opportunity to succeed", the report states.
You can access the industry-facing Fix The Mix report here - or download the academic research here.
Uberspace owner hits out at youtube-dl ruling, vows to appeal
That ruling brings together two elements of the music industry's ongoing fight against music piracy. First, going after stream-ripping services, which allow people to grab permanent downloads of temporary streams, most often YouTube streams. And second, seeking to get a wider range of internet companies to assist in blocking access to alleged piracy services, including hosting companies.
Reps for the record industry unsurprisingly welcomed the recent court decision regarding the youtube-dl webpage, with International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry CEO Frances Moore stating: "The decision from the Hamburg Regional Court builds on the precedent already set in Germany, further indicating that hosting stream-ripping software of this nature is illegal".
But Uberspace owner Jonas Pasche takes issue with both the conclusion that the providers of stream-ripping services and software are liable for copyright infringement and the idea that a web hosting company like his should be obliged to remove a website on the basis of a takedown notice submitted by a copyright owner.
Defenders of stream-ripping services often point out that said services have legitimate as well as illegitimate uses and therefore - they argue - should not be deemed liable for copyright infringement, even if many - maybe most - of their users use the tech to infringe copyright.
It is true that some people use stream-ripping tools for non-copyright-infringing means. Though, it's worth noting, the "but it also has legitimate uses" argument was also used by the makers of P2P file-sharing software back in the day, generally without success in court.
Also, in the US courts - in particular in the legal battle between the record industry and stream-ripping service Yout - it was concluded that stream-ripping services directly violate the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act by circumventing technical protection measures put in place by YouTube to stop people downloading permanent copies of copyright protected content.
Yout and others argue that YouTube doesn't actually have any such technical protection measures, because you can download content from YouTube via a web-browser if you know what you're doing.
But in the American legal battle between the labels and Yout, a court concluded that manually downloading content from YouTube is enough of a faff to conclude that the Google video site has put in place some measures to try to stop such downloads.
However, in an interview with Torrentfreak, Pasche argues that the legal status of software like youtube-dl is not so clear cut, with plenty of people arguing that the provision of the software - and its use, depending on what content is downloaded - doesn't necessarily break copyright rules, including under German law.
And as for companies like Uberspace having to police access to software or services that one group says are illegal but another group says are legit, well, Pasche reckons, "this is ridiculous ... and it's devastating".
The Uberspace owner says the precedent set in this case will force hosting companies to remove content whenever they receive a copyright takedown notice, even if the takedown claim is dubious and should really be considered by a court of law.
"This court decision basically takes away the option of staying neutral for a hosting provider", Pasche claims. In the future hosting companies "will be unable to say 'it might be unlawful, but it's not really clear, let a court decide about this and until then continue to host it'. [Instead] they will have to say 'it might be unlawful, so better let's get rid of it, without a court order'".
"This is a shameful day for the freedom of speech", he then says. "It's paving the way for privatised censorship. Do we as a society really want this? We strongly believe we're on the right side of history here. Everyone except the music industry knows this".
Live Nation sued over crowd surge at Lovers & Friends festival in Las Vegas
The recently filed lawsuit explains how two of the plaintiffs, Carla Thomas and Aaliyah Aguilar, sat down on the floor in between performances at the festival in order to rest their legs, as did a number of other attendees.
Then "a loud noise within the premises led to a belief that a shooting had occurred and/or that gun was drawn. A sea of people in the premises then surged toward plaintiffs' location, pushing plaintiffs against the other attendees in the festival".
"Plaintiffs were pushed, smashed, dragged, kicked, stepped on, trampled and crushed to the ground by the surging crowd", it adds. "Plaintiffs felt frightened, shocked, anxious and light-headed during the entire ordeal".
The lawsuit seeks to hold Live Nation, as promoter of the festival, liable for the injuries and distress suffered by the plaintiffs on the basis that it failed to put in place sufficient crowd management and security personnel to deal with an incident of this kind.
"Plaintiffs screamed for help from the event organisers and security, but none came", the legal filing says. "Plaintiffs screamed for emergency medical care for their injuries, but none came".
Although the plaintiffs were able to "extricate themselves away from the rushing crowd and out of the premises to safety", they "suffered serious injuries that required medical care and treatment. Plaintiffs also suffered general damages arising from the incident, as they experienced, among other things, fear for their safety, fear of death, anxiety, and depression".
The festival's organisers should have foreseen the potential of an incident like the crowd surge that occurred, the lawsuit argues, but despite that fact "defendants failed to employ adequate, properly trained, monitored, and supervised reasonable security, safety and medical provision measures to prevent those persons from being knocked down, stepped on, trampled, dragged on, and crushed without adequate medical service provision".
Live Nation is yet to comment on the lawsuit. Meanwhile, the next edition of Lovers & Friends is set to take place on 6 May.
Sony sues Moody Recordings in Dancin dispute
According to a lawsuit filed with the courts in Colorado, Sony's Spanish division entered into a licensing deal with Moody in 2014 giving it the exclusive rights to exploit the track 'Dancin' in all but the Benelux region for ten years.
Sony Spain then in turn granted Ultra - already allied with the major by that point - the rights to release the record in the US and Canada.
But then, it alleges, "in 2019 defendants created an unauthorised version of the track 'Dancin'" and subsequently "engaged in, and authorised, the reproduction, distribution, public communication and making available [of that version] through inter alia various digital music streaming, distribution and download platforms".
That included Spotify, Amazon Music and iTunes in "the United States, Canada and other territories around the world such as the United Kingdom, Spain and many others where plaintiffs maintain the exclusive rights to distribute and otherwise exploit" the track.
All of which breaches the 2014 licensing agreement and constitutes copyright infringement, Sony alleges. The lawsuit targets the label and its founders Jonas Tempel and William Renkosik aka DJ Bad Boy Bill.
AEI Music launches new investment arm
The plan is to mainly invest in businesses founded by people not yet established in the music or hospitality sectors, and especially people from historically excluded or marginalised backgrounds. The companies that are backed by AEI Ventures will also get access to "a collaborative network of innovators", with mentoring and peer support provided alongside any funding.
Through these investments, AEI Music hopes to ally with a new generation of music entrepreneurs. In the same way the company originally expanded from the Drum&BassArena website and online community that was launched by co-founder James Cotterill via partnerships with the likes of UKF founder Luke Hood and NCS founder Billy Woodford.
Says AEI Music's other co-founder and CEO Diluk Dias: "We've always found the most success when working with those that come from outside of the traditional sectors we operate in, whether that's founders or even our internal staff".
"With the launch of AEI Ventures", he adds, "we're expanding this approach beyond the niche dance music industries we've traditionally operated in, to bring more outsiders inside across music and hospitality".
The firm's COO Sarah Cole says: "The launch of AEI Ventures is a crucial next step in our mission to transform the culture of the music industry. For too long, the access needed to get a foot in the door or investment to reach the next level has been limited for many communities. We are excited to play a part in changing this".
MQA company enters administration
In a statement last week, the company said it is seeking to restructure via the administration in order to facilitate a sale of the business, with its main financial backer - Reinet Investments - seemingly seeking to step away from the venture.
The statement from MQA Ltd reads: "Following the recent positive reception to MQA's latest technology (SCL6), there has been increased international interest in buying MQA Ltd. At the same time, MQA's main financial backer is seeking an exit".
"In order to be in the best position to pursue market opportunities and expedite this process, the company has undergone a restructuring initiative, which includes entering into administration. During this process, MQA continues to trade as usual alongside its partners. We won't be commenting further while negotiations take place".
Various music companies and digital services have allied with MQA over the years in order to facilitate higher quality audio. And, of course, offering higher quality audio has become a priority for an increasing number of streaming services in recent years.
Although there are a number of competing formats for delivering higher quality streams, and arguably active consumer interest in accessing the best quality audio from digital platforms remains somewhat niche.
Music publishing and rights management company AMR Songs has appointed filmmaker and music supervisor Jonathan McHugh to the role of Senior Advisor Creative And Sync. He will also sit on the company' board. CEO Tamara Conniff is "THRILLED that Jonathan is joining us at AMR. We have a strong history of working together, as well as a friendship. His creative/A&R guidance is a key part of AMR's mission and ethos".
EDUCATION & EVENTS
UK record label trade group BPI has announced a series of three events to mark the organisation's 50th anniversary while also "looking ahead to the next 50 years of innovation in music". Called BPI Insight Session 50, the first event takes place at Abbey Road Studios on 19 Apr and will feature, among others, Sofie Hvitved from the Copenhagen Institute Of Future Studies, who has been commissioned to deliver keynotes at each of the sessions. More information about attending the event or accessing a livestream is available here.
Patrick Wolf has released 'The Night Safari', the title track from a new EP that is out on Friday. "'The Night Safari' is a phrase I gave those nights staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep and descending into a wilderness of dead ends and anxieties", says Wolf. "The river in the song is a river that runs throughout the record".
Angel Olsen has released new single 'Forever Means', which is also the title track on a new EP set for release on Friday. Says Olsen of the track: "I'd thought of it as a kind of nod to George Harrison, who I'd been getting back into during the pandemic as I was finally calming down and finding moments of peace with myself".
Want some Mercury Prize dates for your diary? Well, albums released between 16 Jul 2022 and 14 Jul 2023 are eligible for the 2023 prize, labels wishing to submit records for consideration should do so by 3 May, the shortlist will be unveiled on 27 Jul, and the awards show is taking place on 7 Sep.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Glen Matlock says the Pistol TV series could have been "more truthful"
'Pistol' was based on 'Lonely Boy', the autobiography of another of Matlock's former bandmates Steve Jones. Before it arrived on the Disney+ streaming service last year, there was the high profile court battle in which Lydon tried to scupper the project by stopping it from using any of the band's music.
That dispute centred on whether Lydon had a veto right over the use of Sex Pistols tracks in a TV show. Ultimately the court decided that an old band agreement meant only a majority of the band's members needed to approve such usage.
Despite not causing any trouble in court, according to the NME, Matlock says in a new interview with The Metal Voice that he was nevertheless "very disappointed" with the series, and that Boyle failed to incorporate input he had provided early on in the production process.
"I'm not disappointed that it came out", he says, "and I thought it was important that it went ahead because it was based on Steve's story and take on things. And he was the guy that formed the band - not John, Steve. John was the last one in the band... But my portrayal - and particularly my leaving the band - I left the band, I was not sacked. That whole episode where Steve sacked [me] is just bollocks".
"I just think it should have been more truthful", he adds. "And I think the real story is more gritty... I met Danny Boyle again in Los Angeles after it had come out and I had [attended] a private screening. [He said to me], 'Hey, Glen, how are you doing?' [And I said], 'Danny, you're a cunt'. So he knows where I'm coming from on it".
While conceding that there were time constraints that stopped the series - with its focus on Jones - from providing more context about the band's other members, he also notes: "There was a whole episode on Chrissie Hynde not getting married to Steve, which took up an hour of everybody's lives [and] which never happened".
So, you know, maybe they could have made more time available to flesh out Matlock's back story if they'd wanted to.